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SwingingPick
28 Jun 17 19:52
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Date Joined: 11 Jul 11
| Topic/replies: 5,587 | Blogger: SwingingPick's blog
**** CHRIS FROOME Attempting the three-peat and in so doing also claim his fourth Tour title after winning here in 2013 for the first time, when bettering his 2nd-place finish to teammate Wiggins the year before.

The thing with Froome is his entire season is geared around this race and indeed performing well here, so looking at his season in individual parts can be contradictory to some extent as it doesn't tell the whole story. Nevertheless, he began his season down here in Australia and was clearly not in race mode with a 49th-place finish in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and a 6th-place finish on GC against a bunch of largely semi-pros, in the Herald Sun Tour stage race. Started in Catalunya in March when on the Continent for a lacklustre 30th-place finish on GC. Next, wasn't much better in Romandie for an 18th-place finish on GC. Finally showed he was heading in the right direction with his condition when finishing in 4th-place last start in the Criterium Dauphine.

I stated the following on the Criterium Dauphine thread in relation to the stage 6 observations, and I still stand by it:   

"I actually expected Froome to do his famous yo-yoing effort off the back of the main selection, this is something we have observed him doing in the past when he is not in form (in the ITT, where there is no place to hide, he failed quite badly) and he was teetering there for more than a few moments before regrouping and finding his second wind, so to speak. I am not convinced he is there with his form, he might have been on a good day, but the fact that he found that little something to dig deep today, and go with Porte and Aru, shows he is going in the right direction for the TdF. In fact, I think if today was the first day of his perceived turnaround in form, then should he consolidate with another good ride tomorrow he will be building the form he requires for the TdF in a most interesting manner, indeed."

Froome did not consolidate that stage 6 ride, and in fact even though it can be interpreted that he contrived the uniting of opposition against Porte on the final stage 8 summit finish, he couldn't maintain the decent-sized gap he opened against Porte and ended-up losing some 20secs to Porte when the Australian not only returned to him, but eventually passed him. Nevertheless, I still think Froome showed signs for the long-form required to win here, in terms of setting a foundation and using that basis to work his way into the race in the manner of an improving condition.

Moreover, the parcours here has been set up in such a way which really advantages him I believe, in so far as I would expect for him to take the small opportunities required to build a steady incremental lead against his GC rivals as the roads unfurls. In addition, I think SKY have such a strong team assembled in Froome's service -- a really exceptional team across all areas, including cross winds and mountains (I am not convinced Kwiatkowski will be given freedom as a stage hunter so there's even more power there for Froome) -- that they will willingly accept the responsibility of defending the Yellow Jersey once Froome gets it firmly on his shoulders, which should be conservatively with him and the team by extension, by stage 9, the stage which has the same descent as what the riders had faced in stage 6 of the Criterium Dauphine, and where Froome again confirmed that his descending skills is another strength to his dominant form of riding, another weapon to his arsenal, if you will.

Would have had him rated to five stars if he had shown more defiance at the Criterium Dauphine.

What can be said about Froome's present best available price with Fred of 163/100 is that it is a legitimate price for a rider of his class. However, taking into account 21 stages with everything that can happen on the roads of France, and we've seen Froome running up a mountain without a bike for instance, and one would expect some kind of insurance. Except there isn't any really in a straight-out win bet. Should he reach stage 9, and there's no reason he won't other than the unforeseen, I believe he'll be trading shorter. He-is currently all the rage. The Books hate him. WIN ONLY.

Needs no introduction. Class rider. The one to beat.

* FABIO ARU I said on the Criterium Dauphine thread that AST should include the exciting young Italian rider on their squad for this race as he wasn't included at that point, and evidently the Dauphine was a test of his condition for a start here as the team's principal.

Aru has had an eventful season, to put it mildly. A training crash in April forced him out of his planned Giro ride, and he also abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico after developing acute bronchitis, so the Criterium Dauphine ride was a way for him to prove himself to DS with a changed season focus, after nearly three months out of competition. And he did just that where it counted, proving his class, albeit only managing a 5th-place finish on GC. Nevertheless, he stated he had doubts on how he would perform, so to have been seen to climb so well with Porte and Froome, particularly on stage 6, when making the selection with Porte, was very-much consistent with what we witnessed from him when he won the Vuelta in 2015 as a 25yo. In fact, he looked better to me, he looked fresher and more subtle in his strength, at least in terms of weight-to-power, although admittedly when displaying himself as such he wasn't that dominant. The awkwardness, or perhaps his gangliness, is still very-much there, he hasn't as yet developed that harder quality you see on Valverde, for instance. That's not to say he needs it, but it is clear to me that he cannot rely on his barrel lungs for his entire career. It's not working for Bardet, nor not really even for Dan Martin (although he is getting closer and he is somewhat different to Bardet and Aru), however the freshness he has found might allow him to breathe more cleanly, and that might be enough for him to live with the contenders without having to go deep.

Finished in 13th-place here when on debut last year, with a podium on the stage 18 ITT hill climb his best result. He will have learned plenty from that experience, since he was looking at a 6th-place finish before losing more than 13mins to Froome on stage 20. And, it is important to remember that he is a proven GT performer, in addition to his Vuelta victory, he has also compiled two podium finishes in his home tour, the Giro.

There is still some conjecture that he will be sharing leadership duties with Fuglsang, however whilst I think this might be the way AST enter the race on paper, they will expect Aru to become inspired and assert his GT class over Fuglsang in short order, whereby the Dane will be assigned to joker/domestique status as befits his inferior class, even though he comes into the race in fine form after winning the Criterium Dauphine on GC.

Aru's contract is up at the end of this year and whilst he has reportedly already received some offers, he will want to show himself in the best of light with a strong ride on the world's biggest stage. And that means a podium in Paris. Reports had him training at Sestriere with good sensations and his recent Nationals win confirms his condition, so with a patient and even ride he can find a way to work his way into this race, and figure for a place on the podium without having to show great heroics.

Opened at around a speculative 100/1 some time ago with some, since he wasn't on the radar for a start here, and as the situation unfolded in the Criterium Dauphine with a potential start here floating around, he was trimmed in half and has found even support to settle into 22/1 with a couple presently, and which I believe will be short-lived even though I think he should be a 9/1 place price. E/W, best.

Interesting proposition. Classy type. May pay to follow.

1/4* RAFAL MAJKA I note that he has been installed as the second favourite in the King of the Mountains classification (MC), however it is my analysis that the polkadot jersey is a back-up or Plan B to the team's expectation of a strong fight for the podium from him. I accept that he won the polkadot jersey convincingly last year, however he came out of riding the Giro for a dogged 5th-place finish on GC. Was only ever targeting the MC here and so his 27th-place finish, whilst his best in three starts, was secondary to his primary focus of securing the MC Jersey for a second time.

It is worth remembering that he made the podium in the Vuelta in 2015, his best ever GT finish in ten GT starts. He actually might have been expected to podium in the 2016 Giro and not place 5th, however it would appear he did not have the ideal preparation when being pulled from his Romandie lead-in prior to the last stage, because of the cold weather and fears he might be coming down with the flu.

It would appear that with his maturing years and approaching his prime as a GC rider over the next couple of years, which is reflected in the two-year contract BOH have provided him, it is my analysis that what is to be expected from him here, is for the Pole to hang with the principals and sneak onto the podium when seeing the opportunity late in proceedings.

Currently 66/1 with a couple, and no value since he is best considered in place terms only. Double that and better on here, however the expectation then is that he must challenge early, and if he doesn't do that successfully the price goes in the opposite direction before returning again if he comes late, as I think he might. Prefer to not ride roller-coasters since they nearly always eventuate as convoluted projects, so perhaps it is best advised to wait if the Books move him out, as they should, to at least 80/1 and 100/1 with competiive value priced in. I think he is a 33/1 place price, so E/W.

Can give a good account of himself. May find conditions to his liking. Worthy of close consideration.
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Report Raggetty June 29, 2017 10:53 PM BST
Great read as always SP I,m with you on Froome  - helped myself to a lump of Fred's 13/8. Here's hoping he makes a better fist of staying upright than he did in 2014.
Report BIG CAT LEON LETT July 1, 2017 10:57 AM BST
Quintana 9.4
Report BIG CAT LEON LETT July 1, 2017 12:17 PM BST
May be that he just hasn't got the talent as Greg Le Monde would say,but they all target this race and he's still on the start line so we can assume there's nothing physically wrong.

Do much prefer Froome as a rider though.
Report bb66 July 1, 2017 1:32 PM BST
Maybe you're right in considering Richie Porte's odds no value, but he should be Froome's main rival this year. Unfortunately he's known for getting in trouble over 3 weeks of GTs, being for crashes or lose of form, so the main questions this time being if he gets the form curve right not peaking to early, and if his team is strong and clever enough not being outmanoevered tactically.

Nevertheless his career would deserve a GT win, so my emotional support is with him this year, and with question marks over Froome's form there is a realistic chance. I see he's drifted over the last hours, any recent news?

Aru is an unknown quantity having to change his season schdule, he might further improve compared to Dauphine, but also may break down in week 3. Will Astana sacrifice Fuglsang for working duties or keep him as their plan B?

What will be the main goal of BoraHG, as I can see 4 targets? Majka for podium, Majka for KOM, Sagan for Green Jersey and Buchmann for White Jersey.

I doubt Quintana will be a real contender, though his plan was peaking at the Tour, winning the Giro walking by. Not being dominant at the Giro should have taken out of him more than planned. MOV has Valverde as a plan B, after doing well on the first 2 of his 3 GTs last year he sat out the Giro after an excellent spring, he's shown need for improvement at Dauphine.

AC would need some 'medical assistance' to keep in contention.

I admit it's not very daring to predict Porte and Froome finishing on the podium, the 3rd place being wide open, what about Dan Martin considering there is the least ITT distance ever (not checked if it's true?) to cover?

Will Matthews be able to challenge Sagan for Green, or at least being the similar type of rider prevent him to distance the pure sprinters?

KOM is a pure lottery in modern GT racing, as despite changes in regulations it isn't targeted by the by the strongest climbers but by mediocre ones going into escape groups.
Report monarch July 1, 2017 2:51 PM BST
You could well be right about Majka targetting a podium place, but i've happily backed him at 6s for KOM
Report SwingingPick July 1, 2017 4:16 PM BST
Some good questions -- I might take a stab at some of them.

Porte question:
-- I haven't explicitly stated that Porte is poor value. Haven't really discussed Porte's chances, except with you on the Dauphine thread, where I believe we were both excited for his chances at the Tour as he was looking to secure the Dauphine prize. Nevertheless, I don't believe we broached the subject of Porte's price. He is certainly short, too short, no value, in any case.
-- The odds certainly suggest that Porte is Froome's main rival seeing as he is a narrow second favourite, and was even closer yesterday as people looked to hype the Australian connection with Cadel Evans' 2011 Tour win.
-- I think Porte should be good competition in the mountains. We agreed he was climbing beautifully in the Dauphine, and he looked so comfortable that I think climbing will be his advantage for a long way, here.

Porte background[/b]:
When as the team's leader for the first time, he finished with his best ever performance here last year when 5th, after experiencing bad luck with a puncture on stage two, which came at the worst time possible and lost some two minutes, and then was involved in a crash with a motorbike on Mont Ventoux stage 12. He subsequently worked away bit-by-bit on the following mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps, never giving up, but on the penultimate mountain stage 19, he crashed again in slippery conditions, which ended his podium chances for good. 

Has had a very good season this year. Came out firing on home roads to win the TDU on GC by nearly a minute, and bagging two stage wins, including the queen Willunga Hill stage. Then looked in decent shape to win his third Paris-Nice stage race, however inattention on the opening stage which experienced splits due to wind, and then more bad weather and team failure forced him to lose more time. Ultimately, he finished in 11th-place on GC, however he looked very good when fighting on the climbs, firstly on stage 6 when he finished on the podium, and then winning stage 7 from Bertie. Next up, he won Romandie on GC from a top field, showing he was again climbing well.

Last start, in the Criterium Dauphine he looked perhaps a little too forward in condition in the traditional pre-TdF lead-in test. Nevertheless, he again showed his impressive improvement in the TT discipline by winning stage four against-the-clock over 23.5kms, and slamming his rivals in the process. Whilst he finished in 2nd-place on GC, losing the win to Fuglsang by the final stage win bonus, of particular note was his hard-man qualities, for whilst he got dropped on the penultimate climb by the GC contenders because of arguably Froome's bully-boy tactics, he fought back in very impressive fashion by working stoically on the flat valley road leading into the final climb, where he brought back and passed Froome, to narrowly lose the GC win. In fact, that final stage, whilst a failure, again reminded me that Porte is a lion-hearted fighter who will never give up in this race.

Now, Porte doesn't just have one weakness, he has two. Froome has no weaknesses, although I accept he could have been stronger and more dominant in the Dauphine, and that his form is in question. Froome easily distanced Porte on the descent in the Dauphine, and Porte lines up here with a very poor team for the mountains. The latter weakness is the reason why I think he will ultimately struggle against the SKY train and Froome. Sure, Porte is strong mentally, he has been working with a Tasmanian shrink he met on a training ride last year on a climb in Tasmania, however coping with the pressure in the Tour is something which takes experience, Evans knew that. And Porte just has been "blooded" enough to be in a position to cope with what will be an all-out assault in the mountains.

I think Porte is already vulnerable in the mountains because of his lack of team support, and by the third week, which admittedly only has the two main climbs of stages 17/18, he will be totally exposed. As a fellow Australian I would like him to do well, but looking at what is to come and considering that his form was already forward in the Dauphine, and having such a weak team, especially when going up against such a strong team in SKY, I don't think he can win. Moreover, I agree he gets into trouble, although what with the shrink in his corner, he might finally reverse such a thing. I don't know.

[b]News on Froome or Porte?
:
The only news I have seen is that Froome has extended his contract with SKY for the next two years. This shows him how highly they value and respect him, and he now goes into the race with an even clearer mindset. I acknowledge that Porte's price has drifted out in the past 24 hours, although I cannot find any one basis for such a move.

Fuglsang:
How the "double leadership role" stands in AST depends on how long it takes for Aru to impose himself on the race, and by extension on teammate Fuglesang. This, to me, means that Fuglsang is Plan B for as long as he is in GC contention, which could be for as short as until stage 5 or it could be longer up until stage 9 or even longer up until stage 12.

Aru is AST's main GC rider, they just have the bonus of Fuglsang being in career best GC form, so they want to nurture an additional possibility with him in case he is the real deal. I don't think he is. I may be wrong, though. 

BOH question:
I share the same analysis, although Majka will be expected to podium before his condition dictates that Plan B is more likely with the KOM. I don't like Buchmann for the White.

Quintana question:
The way the internal dynamics work in MOV is that the inclusion of Valverde means that like Aru/Fuglsang, Valverde/Quintana are supposed to go head-to-head, and the better rider on the road gets the team principle role when the decisive stages loom. Having said that, I don't like Quintana and in that regard I share your doubt that he will be a contender. He didn't look right in the Giro, and Valverde will impose himself on Quintana as he has done before.

Valverde background: In nine starts around France the wily 37yo veteran campaigner only has the one podium finish, which came in 2015. This year may be his second if he can show that he is just as hungry for GC glory as his younger and more talented fellow teammate, Quintana.

Valverde has won 8 races this season and collected 3 GC wins in the three main stage races in ESP -- in Andalusia, Catalunya, and the Basque Country. He also added another monument to his palmares when winning LBL for a fourth time, after four days earlier setting a new record of five wins at LFW. His only real question mark, and it is a relatively big one since it has come so close to the start here, came in the Criterium Dauphine two starts back, where he rode a good ITT but where he was found to be impatient and uncomfortable on the climbs. This essentially opens the question that three weeks might just be too long for him here, and that whilst he has had a brilliant season it was strictly in one-day classics and stage races. And, it is not that easy to dismiss his sub-par performance at the Criterium Dauphine with the argument that he was on a training ride and he tried to force certain situations, although he did perform similarly in 2015 at the criterium Dauphine before getting on the podium here.

It is worth noting that last year he rode all three GTs, and whilst he finished on the podium in the Giro, his 6th-place finish at the Tour was commendable.

If he can keep it together -- and recent narratives have explained that veterans are highly-experienced in controlling their output efforts -- he might find himself right in this race in the third week, and we know his heart is there for a final push at that point. I think keeping Valverde somewhat safe is a wise play.

Bertie is busted:
I don't subscribe to that kind of talk, but I don't like Bertie at all.

Dan Martin question[b]
I wouldn't dissuade anyone from backing Dan Martin for the podium, but I think it is incremental with him as a GT contender, and that would suggest a top-5 would be a big step for him and the team this time around, being as it does, play to his strengths. I would prefer to cover Valverde.

[b]Bling question
:
I think we both agree that Bling has the similar characteristics to Sagan, in terms of being a versatile sprinter. So obviously on paper Bling has a chance to take it to Sagan seeing as he can make the intermediates between or after climbs, however Sagan the showman is here with a clear focus and Bling has been struggling with form all season, although his LBL ride was decent and he does have two wins to his name. I think you know that I think he is overrated.

KOM understanding:
I agree to some extent. The thing that comes up historically, is that it is pretty-much an even split between non-GC riders and GC riders, except for 2014 when GC riders crept in behind Majka, who was not GC.

Anyway, there can be some value around, and I actually have a bit E/W on De Gendt at 12/1. He finished behind Majka last year, and he clearly targeted the KOM then, and he has been making a name for himself as a long-range combatant in the mountains of recent times. Plus, he represents another very clear direction with the underperforming LTS team. The other directions are: Gorilla for stage wins, obviously. Wellens and Benoot to assist De Gendt. Gallopin stage hunter. Hansen sneaky stage breaks.

Good luck mate,
SP
Report SwingingPick July 1, 2017 4:20 PM BST
Some good questions -- I might take a stab at some of them.

Porte question:
-- I haven't explicitly stated that Porte is poor value. Haven't really discussed Porte's chances, except with you on the Dauphine thread, where I believe we were both excited for his chances at the Tour as he was looking to secure the Dauphine prize. Nevertheless, I don't believe we broached the subject of Porte's price. He is certainly short, too short, no value, in any case.
-- The odds certainly suggest that Porte is Froome's main rival seeing as he is a narrow second favourite, and was even closer yesterday as people looked to hype the Australian connection with Cadel Evans' 2011 Tour win.
-- I think Porte should be good competition in the mountains. We agreed he was climbing beautifully in the Dauphine, and he looked so comfortable that I think climbing will be his advantage for a long way, here.

Porte background:
When as the team's leader for the first time, he finished with his best ever performance here last year when 5th, after experiencing bad luck with a puncture on stage two, which came at the worst time possible and lost some two minutes, and then was involved in a crash with a motorbike on Mont Ventoux stage 12. He subsequently worked away bit-by-bit on the following mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps, never giving up, but on the penultimate mountain stage 19, he crashed again in slippery conditions, which ended his podium chances for good. 

Has had a very good season this year. Came out firing on home roads to win the TDU on GC by nearly a minute, and bagging two stage wins, including the queen Willunga Hill stage. Then looked in decent shape to win his third Paris-Nice stage race, however inattention on the opening stage which experienced splits due to wind, and then more bad weather and team failure forced him to lose more time. Ultimately, he finished in 11th-place on GC, however he looked very good when fighting on the climbs, firstly on stage 6 when he finished on the podium, and then winning stage 7 from Bertie. Next up, he won Romandie on GC from a top field, showing he was again climbing well.

Last start, in the Criterium Dauphine he looked perhaps a little too forward in condition in the traditional pre-TdF lead-in test. Nevertheless, he again showed his impressive improvement in the TT discipline by winning stage four against-the-clock over 23.5kms, and slamming his rivals in the process. Whilst he finished in 2nd-place on GC, losing the win to Fuglsang by the final stage win bonus, of particular note was his hard-man qualities, for whilst he got dropped on the penultimate climb by the GC contenders because of arguably Froome's bully-boy tactics, he fought back in very impressive fashion by working stoically on the flat valley road leading into the final climb, where he brought back and passed Froome, to narrowly lose the GC win. In fact, that final stage, whilst a failure, again reminded me that Porte is a lion-hearted fighter who will never give up in this race.

Now, Porte doesn't just have one weakness, he has two. Froome has no weaknesses, although I accept he could have been stronger and more dominant in the Dauphine, and that his form is in question. Froome easily distanced Porte on the descent in the Dauphine, and Porte lines up here with a very poor team for the mountains. The latter weakness is the reason why I think he will ultimately struggle against the SKY train and Froome. Sure, Porte is strong mentally, he has been working with a Tasmanian shrink he met on a training ride last year on a climb in Tasmania, however coping with the pressure in the Tour is something which takes experience, Evans knew that. And Porte just has been "blooded" enough to be in a position to cope with what will be an all-out assault in the mountains.

I think Porte is already vulnerable in the mountains because of his lack of team support, and by the third week, which admittedly only has the two main climbs of stages 17/18, he will be totally exposed. As a fellow Australian I would like him to do well, but looking at what is to come and considering that his form was already forward in the Dauphine, and having such a weak team, especially when going up against such a strong team in SKY, I don't think he can win. Moreover, I agree he gets into trouble, although what with the shrink in his corner, he might finally reverse such a thing. I don't know.

News on Froome or Porte?:
The only news I have seen is that Froome has extended his contract with SKY for the next two years. This shows him how highly they value and respect him, and he now goes into the race with an even clearer mindset. I acknowledge that Porte's price has drifted out in the past 24 hours, although I cannot find any one basis for such a move.

Fuglsang:
How the "double leadership role" stands in AST depends on how long it takes for Aru to impose himself on the race, and by extension on teammate Fuglesang. This, to me, means that Fuglsang is Plan B for as long as he is in GC contention, which could be for as short as until stage 5 or it could be longer up until stage 9 or even longer up until stage 12.

Aru is AST's main GC rider, they just have the bonus of Fuglsang being in career best GC form, so they want to nurture an additional possibility with him in case he is the real deal. I don't think he is. I may be wrong, though. 

BOH question:
I share the same analysis, although Majka will be expected to podium before his condition dictates that Plan B is more likely with the KOM. I don't like Buchmann for the White.

Quintana question:
The way the internal dynamics work in MOV is that the inclusion of Valverde means that like Aru/Fuglsang, Valverde/Quintana are supposed to go head-to-head, and the better rider on the road gets the team principle role when the decisive stages loom. Having said that, I don't like Quintana and in that regard I share your doubt that he will be a contender. He didn't look right in the Giro, and Valverde will impose himself on Quintana as he has done before.

Valverde background: In nine starts around France the wily 37yo veteran campaigner only has the one podium finish, which came in 2015. This year may be his second if he can show that he is just as hungry for GC glory as his younger and more talented fellow teammate, Quintana.

Valverde has won 8 races this season and collected 3 GC wins in the three main stage races in ESP -- in Andalusia, Catalunya, and the Basque Country. He also added another monument to his palmares when winning LBL for a fourth time, after four days earlier setting a new record of five wins at LFW. His only real question mark, and it is a relatively big one since it has come so close to the start here, came in the Criterium Dauphine two starts back, where he rode a good ITT but where he was found to be impatient and uncomfortable on the climbs. This essentially opens the question that three weeks might just be too long for him here, and that whilst he has had a brilliant season it was strictly in one-day classics and stage races. And, it is not that easy to dismiss his sub-par performance at the Criterium Dauphine with the argument that he was on a training ride and he tried to force certain situations, although he did perform similarly in 2015 at the criterium Dauphine before getting on the podium here.

It is worth noting that last year he rode all three GTs, and whilst he finished on the podium in the Giro, his 6th-place finish at the Tour was commendable.

If he can keep it together -- and recent narratives have explained that veterans are highly-experienced in controlling their output efforts -- he might find himself right in this race in the third week, and we know his heart is there for a final push at that point. I think keeping Valverde somewhat safe is a wise play.

Bertie is busted:
I don't subscribe to that kind of talk, but I don't like Bertie at all.

Dan Martin question:
I wouldn't dissuade anyone from backing Dan Martin for the podium, but I think it is incremental with him as a GT contender, and that would suggest a top-5 would be a big step for him and the team this time around, being as it does, play to his strengths. I would prefer to cover Valverde.

Bling question:
I think we both agree that Bling has the similar characteristics to Sagan, in terms of being a versatile sprinter. So obviously on paper Bling has a chance to take it to Sagan seeing as he can make the intermediates between or after climbs, however Sagan the showman is here with a clear focus and Bling has been struggling with form all season, although his LBL ride was decent and he does have two wins to his name. I think you know that I think he is overrated.

KOM understanding:
I agree to some extent. The thing that comes up historically, is that it is pretty-much an even split between non-GC riders and GC riders, except for 2014 when GC riders crept in behind Majka, who was not GC.

Anyway, there can be some value around, and I actually have a bit E/W on De Gendt at 12/1. He finished behind Majka last year, and he clearly targeted the KOM then, and he has been making a name for himself as a long-range combatant in the mountains of recent times. Plus, he represents another very clear direction with the underperforming LTS team. The other directions are: Gorilla for stage wins, obviously. Wellens and Benoot to assist De Gendt. Gallopin stage hunter. Hansen sneaky stage breaks.

Good luck mate,
SP
Report bb66 July 1, 2017 5:33 PM BST
I didn't want to say AC is on PEDs (though he might have been esp in his AST years), what I wanted to express is, it would need them to be in contention at this stage of his career and with his performances this year so far. I don't like him personally as well, though I have to admit that his fighting spirit has added much tension to many races.

Update:
That's it already done for Valverde, while Porte lost a lot of time, I think due to avoiding risks rather than lack of form
Report SwingingPick July 1, 2017 5:42 PM BST
My apologies for the double post, got the formatting wrong, obviously. Have requested for it to be deleted, but the Admin is on strike, it would appear. Laugh

Froome can pinch a nice little gap to his main rivals if he has a good go, I thought he might, but with the slippery nature to the course I'm not sure now. Might take it easy like Porte.
Report SwingingPick July 1, 2017 5:56 PM BST
Nope, Froome didn't go safe at all, he gave it an earnest go and has opened a handy gap to his GC rivals already.
Report Raggetty July 2, 2017 1:02 AM BST
KOM Couldn't resist a few quid each way on thomas Voeckler for one last hurrah. Was watching his polka dot winning performance in the 2012 tDF the other day. He fought like a lion.
Report bb66 July 3, 2017 9:10 PM BST
Looks like Kittel will be the main threat for Sagan, haven't calculated it stage by stage, but I think Sagan must do more in the intermediates.
Report bb66 July 20, 2017 4:50 PM BST
Barguil a well deserved KOM winner, despite some escape stages he's able to mix with the GC contenders and even distance them on final stage climbs. Landa maybe a faster uphill rider, but lacking the kick besides he has to work for Froome.
Report SwingingPick July 21, 2017 5:42 AM BST
Barguil was talked about as a promising young rider for the GC, probably in the Vuelta in 2013, winning two stages, one of which was s summit finish. He required development but evidently things were not working out for him. Here, he has used the KOM competition and the stage 13 win as a launchpad to rediscover his promise, and by finishing ahead of the GC contenders on stage 18 for instance, would suggest his climbing is noteworthy and capable of even further improvement. He has a good shape for the ITT but will need much more work in the discipline to compete for top places as his past results are nothing to admire. France are rightly excited about his prospects of winning the Tour, and I think his top-10 place on GC is well-deserved, also. He was fighting for one position yesterday, such hunger speaks also about his heart.
Report 1st time poster July 21, 2017 3:16 PM BST
if his ITT bang goes his chances of winning future KOTM AND stages,seems the way to go for above average climbers is top get way behind in the 1st ITT ,get behind on GC and the gc contenders don't bother hunting you down,anyone watching this everyday would be amazed to find out froome is probably going to win ,for most of the race hasn't even looked liked skys best rider,if he doesn't win tomorrow hasn't won a stage has he
Report SwingingPick July 23, 2017 7:25 PM BST
Froome 3-peat. Special.
Report Desmond Orchard July 24, 2017 12:52 PM BST
Just wanted to offer you a quick Thank You, SP, for this and the daily threads.
They've enhanced my enjoyment of the Tour and helped limit my losses on the punting side Mischief
I'm looking forward to more of the same throughout La Vuelta.
Report hologon July 24, 2017 5:25 PM BST
Very informative read thank you SP
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